Saturday, April 26, 2008

Solana Beach- goodbye to Dr. Dave

As almost everyone has heard, a member of our triathlon club, Dave Martin, was fatally attacked by a shark in solana beach, ca. on friday, april 25, 2008.

"Adversity does not build character it reveals it".
below is the first-hand account shared by the triathlon club of san diego members who pulled dr. dave from the water. true heroes. some names have been left out in respect to privacy.

"Events of Friday April 25, 2008

I have been doing the Friday morning swim almost every Friday for at least 5 years. I was a couple of minutes late to the Friday morning swim. Everyone was happy to be there. The weather was beautiful and the sun was rising. The water had warmed up above 60 degrees for the first time this year on an Early Friday morning. Dave mentioned that a friend he had met the previous night would not be joining us because he was going to the INS to become a US citizen. Then a friend came by with his Dog. By 6:50, 9 of us were ready to go. Anita, #, Dave, #, #, #, #, #, and me. As we walked in the water at low tide, the surf was very calm. As usual, we swam out another couple hundred yards, regrouped and then headed north about a half mile to where we were lined up with the stairs at Stone Steps beach. Anita, # and I got to our normal turn around point and looked back to see where the rest of the group was. As we saw Dave and # approaching us about 30 yards away, we thought we heard screams of “SHARK!”. Immediately after that, we saw Dave moving vigorously waving his arms out of the water. As we discussed this, I am not sure what I saw, what someone else saw and what I imagined. I might have seen Dave's waist out of the water and moving quickly from side to side. Anita thought he might have had a heart attack. Then we heard more screams of help. All 8 swimmers converged on Dave almost immediately and as we saw what had happened, tried to do what we could do to help. I will leave the injury descriptions to the medical people, but it was obvious that his injuries were very severe and he was losing blood quickly. I asked Anita to swim in and try to get help (call 911 or find a lifeguard). # went with Anita. The rest of us tried to get Dave in as quickly as we could. I think most of the way there were at least 3 and sometimes 4 people pulling him in. Dave was on his back headed towards the shore. I was doing an elementary back stroke while pushing his right arm. # was holding his head up above the water, while # and #were on his left side. The surf was not too big, so we didn't have to worry about the surf until about the same place where we could stand. Then we carried/pulled him through the surf until he was on the beach about 100 yards south of the stairs. I am guessing that it was about 5 minutes from the time of the attack until the time that we were on the beach. At about the same time that we arrived on the beach, the lifeguard drove up. He assessed the situation and from this point on, I tried to stay out of his way. After a quick assessment, he asked someone to run up the stairs and flag the ambulance, and for someone else to go to the lifeguard station at Fletcher Cove. I ran up the stairs and # went to the lifeguard station. About 2 minutes later, a fire truck and an ambulance arrived. I asked if they could drive to the beach, but they did not think their vehicle would work on the sand. They grabbed their equipment and headed down. With the professionals in charge, I waited around for a couple of minutes to see if I could help, then went back to the parking lot where we waited for news. I think the rest of the story can be told better by others. After waiting for a while, we were asked to move to the Solana Beach Community Center above Fletcher Cove to be debriefed. We were up there for several hours trying to make sense of the morning and to understand what happened. I left at about 11:00.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Dave's family. We will miss him a lot.- Ken and Anita"

other blogs about dave:
brian long's goodbye
jim vance's blog

Although I did not personally know Dave, my heart goes out to him and his family. It is truly a tragedy that no one ever thinks will really happen...

on it being "so close to home"...
This week, james' buddy, trevor, was supposed to come in town before a race in Arizona this weekend. Early this week, James asked me if I wanted to join them for the 6:30am Solana Beach Swim on Friday and then go across the street to naked cafe (trevor's favorite stop in SD) before we hit the road to Arizona. [The tri club 6:30 swim is James' weekly swim during the summer (his skinny butt can't handle the cold)....also the exact swim route we took on our second "date"]. I told james I would come to watch and for food, but i'd rather not sit in salt water for 5 hours in the car (boys just don't get it!).
Anyhow, trevor ended up canceling last minute for work, and james' plans changed as well. On Thursday, James and I skipped 6am masters. On friday, I woke up (at my own house, not with james) and heard from text messages that a shark attacked a triathlete in Solana Beach at Fletcher's cove. At that point, this is what I knew:
1) James had skipped his Thursday swim, but would be out of town all weekend and would have wanted to get in an easy swim on Friday morning.
2) we hadn't discussed his exact workout plans. Earlier in the week, it included the Fletcher's cove swim with the Tri Club. Later in the week he was also talking about a mountain bike, but hadn't said whether he would still be swimming also.
3) James had emailed me at 5:01 AM to say good morning (love him!) so that means he was up in plenty of time....

So, I immediately called him.
okay. no big deal. let's text.
9:06 AM text #1: Swimmer killed by shark at fletcher cove this morning?!?!
9:15 AM text #2: Please tell me you did not go....
9:22 AM I called a second time.
NO ANSWER (this is odd, james always has his phone, especially for work reasons)
9:29 AM text #3: Seriously. Where are you?
9:42 AM call #3, NOTHING!
from 9:30 to 10 something, i also talked to many of our triathlete friends trying to find out more news and get advice (some said, "call the police").
9:59 AM text #4: Where are you babe? I am so worried...
10:13 call #4, nothing
10:15 call #5, nothing
eventually, felipe got in touch with a solana beach life guard and found out it was an "older man". i was starting to feel less panicky, but still not completely convinced- james ALWAYS has his phone. so if it wasn't the shark, was he in a mountain bike accident?!?!? WHAT IS GOING ON! he is never unreachable.
10:36 call #6....and then,
he called me right back, "hey! what's up! i'm on my way to the airport!"
james: no, i was on a mountain bike ride and for the only time ever, i didn't take my phone because i needed to charge it before the plane flight. i got home and hopped straight in the shower, grabbed my stuff, and now i'm in the car. why? what's up?"

in the end, he was sorry for forgetting his phone, and i apologized for ripping his head off when we finally got in touch (but, hey, at least someone is worried about you!). i'm so thankful that he is okay but still my relief was bittersweet with the knowledge that another family had not gotten the same news about their loved one. and for that, i feel terrible.

sometimes things all get put into perspective. i am so thankful for everything in my life and will do my best not to take any of it for granted.
this morning (saturday), on our tri club bike ride up the coast, many people shared stories of Dave, remembering him from various swims and club races. i wish i had gotten the chance to know him, he seems like a wonderful man.
a couple riders were at the swim yesterday, trying to cope, and getting back on their bikes to be with friends and try to clear their heads.....


kerrie said...

glad both of you are okay! how scary and so very sad...incidents like this really help to keep so much in perspective.
i heard about this yesterday and couldn't believe it as i know all of the stats on attacks so well(little fear of mine being such a pokey swimmer). sounds like your tri club has a great group of people - truly heroic.
be safe,

Shan said...

wow, that's SO scary. A similar sort of thing happened a few years ago when my boyfriend was at Heathrow, and was on a flight back to SF that had been targeted for a terrorist bomb threat. I completely freaked when I heard, knowing he was supposed to be on that plane. I'm glad you and James are safe, and my heart is breaking for Dave Martin's family. It's been kind of a surreal experience knowing this has all happened. Thankfully TCSD is the best, most supportive club out there, and all the warm responses makes me proud to be a part of it. And this teaches us to savor every moment of life!!!!

triguyjt said...

so tragic....
I was thinking of your group when I heard of the attack, but I first heard it was a "senior" triathlete and I knew it would not have been you or james.....

Very sobering to hear about the attack. so fast. so final.

triguyjt said...

so tragic....
I was thinking of your group when I heard of the attack, but I first heard it was a "senior" triathlete and I knew it would not have been you or james.....

Very sobering to hear about the attack. so fast. so final.

jameson said...

good look'n out dog! I will never leave home with out my phone again! I am sitting in the norfolk airport... I can' wait to get home!

Benson said...

Very sorry to hear about Dave. I saw the news coverage this morning. Glad to know you and james are well.

I've done that very swim with the club when I was shacking with friends in Cardiff a few years ago. Beautiful place.

My thoughts are with you.

Bob Mitera said...

Really sad to hear/see this. You guys did such a great job at trying to help him and get him emergency attention. I stayed at the Solana Beach Tennis Club (condos) right there and we were in the water every day in March. Sobering thought. Our thoughts are with you guys and Dave's family and friends.


moonpie said...

How sad and scary! He deserves his ass kicked for getting you so worried ;)

TRI-ROB said...

MAN Beth. Freakin unbelievable huh? Glad you didn't stroke out from the stress of not hearing from Bonehead... uh... I mean James...

Keep Breeeeeeathing....